A disasterclass in theatre: Diana the musical

We delve into why the Diana musical is SO bad?

Harriet Metcalfe
7th November 2021
Image Credit: IMDB
A week ago I sat down at my desk to write up some notes. On one side of my screen, research papers about Samuel Taylor Coleridge. On the other, Diana the musical was playing. You might call me a woman of culture. Just... very, very specific culture.

Something seems to have sparked the entertainment industry's interest in Princess Di this year, with Netflix's, er, interesting attempt at a tribute to the late royal, as well as Kristen Stewart in Spencer - almost the complete tonal opposite to Netflix. If you can even class Diana the musical within one 'tone'.

But I don't like to be horrible about films, even when I kind of hate them. A lot of hard work and effort has gone into this from many people, so let's focus on the good stuff first. The set design, costume, choreography and vocal performances aren't even objectively that bad. And I actually liked that you could see the scene changes, with props being brought on and off stage - it felt more real than just having a cut scene there.

And to be honest, the filming of it is actually pretty good; there's some fairly impressive shots during the two hour and fifteen minute run time. I'm not saying that they make it worth the over two hours you'll never get back from your life - but they're there all the same.

But all of that can't help the musical escape from the fact it's just tone-deaf and fairly insensitive. Very little is taken with an ounce of seriousness, to the extent that James Hewitt comes on-stage shirtless and riding a horse. You have to see it to believe it, I guess.

They spend all of about five minutes on her fatal death at the end of the musical. And whilst Diana powerfully walks towards the flashing lights in silence, I actually thought to myself 'oh this is quite poignant'. But then the royals sing a line so genuinely out of place and ridiculous before it cuts to credits that I lost my shit and wanted to send Netflix a refund for my time.

Very little is taken with an ounce of seriousness, to the extent that James Hewitt comes on-stage shirtless and riding a horse.

So hate watch it, put it on out of curiosity, heck if you're in New York any time soon pay a trip over to Broadway and see it live. But just because it worked for Hamilton and Les Mis doesn't mean it'll work for every major historical event. I just really hope we don't see Covid: the musical in twenty years time.

And a final note to self; if you're writing the line "serves me right for marrying a Scorpio" just because it's the only thing that rhymes with the previous line, then maybe you need to scrap the rhyming thing altogether. You're not a poet, and you should know it.

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AUTHOR: Harriet Metcalfe
English Literature BA student. Loves film, TV, books and coffee. Thinks "Thor: The Dark World" gets too much hate. Twitter: @hattiemetcalfe

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